The Ford Fiesta is the UK’s best-selling car, by a clear margin. OK, May 2012 saw the Vauxhall Corsa overtake it for the first time in living memory (only a slight exaggeration, that), but the Fiesta remains clear leader year to date. Just as it has done for many years previously.
So Ford has an environmental responsibility here that, hopefully, it will respond to when it facelifts the current Fiesta later this year. Simply put, because Fiesta sales are so huge, even small incremental improvements in fuel economy and emissions will have a big impact on overall UK emissions. Make big gains and CO2 output in the UK really will fall by an appreciable margin. When you’re selling 100,000 cars a year, you have the power to mastermind the gradient of graphs.
Which is why Ford’s recent announcement that it’s to launch six sub-100g/km engines in the Fiesta is so exciting. Three of those will be diesel engines, similar to the Econetic models we already know so well. These cars have become progressively greener as the years have passed, but they’re also expensive: supermini buyers tend not to favour diesel, because in this sector, price is all.
So the news that three of those engines will be Ford Ecoboost motors is even more encouraging. To recap, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost is the engine that has transformed the Focus into such a deeply impressive eco-wagon. In real world use it’s probably not far off a Toyota Prius for average economy, but is significantly cheaper and a lot more appealing. It drives beautifully thanks to this masterful little engine, and the fact it’s coming to the Fiesta is immensely tantalizing.
In the Focus, it averages 58.9mpg. In the Fiesta, the 100hp or 125hp unit will probably emit less than 100g/km and average over 65mpg.
There’s a third engine Ford speaks of, though. What’s this – a non-turbo Ecoboost? Just as Fiat offers the TwinAir with and without a turbo, so too could Ford roll out a normally aspirated, less powerful version of the mighty three-pot, at a much lower list price that will enable many more people to get into it – and, once they’ve driven it, WANT to get into it.
Petrol naturally produces less CO2 than diesel. I wonder if this means Ford’s planning for a new 75hp 1.0-litre Ecoboost Fiesta to become the most CO2-efficient internal combustion engine’d car of all, with emissions of below the 84g/km emitted by the new Hyundai i20 Blue diesel?
The extra affordability of a simpler non-turbo petrol engine would certainly have a big effect on overall emissions: it would be likely to bought in huge numbers, seeing Ford’s corporate average CO2 (weighted by sales) literally plunge. With just a little speculation, Ford could be on the cusp of a major CO2 reduction plan for Europe.
Like Hyundai, and its sister car Kia, most other mainstream brands offer sub-100g/km CO2 models. Indeed, Ford’s got an entire range of Econetic models. But these are almost universally diesel engines, with turbocharger and particulate filter technology that all adds expense to the list price. Not something supermini buyers can easily swallow: if a diesel costs around £1000 more than a petrol car, that’s a far bigger percentage of the list price than for a £25k exec saloon. That’s why petrol still dominates for small cars and why diesel is default for big cars.
Admirable the super-eco diesel superminis are, but they simply don’t sell in big enough numbers to have a huge effect on Europe’s overall CO2 problem. Greener petrol engines would, and to speculate that Ford might be about to roll out such a green engine thus becomes a real game-changer to watch and hope for.
I attended the SMMT Summit recently. There, Bosch board member Peter Tyroller said both petrol and diesel engines still have economy improvement and CO2 reduction potential of 30 per cent within them – and these gains will roll out within the next few years. The next generation of engines many car makers are working on will offer wholesale boosts to their green credentials that will far outweigh the impact of any new EVs.
Ford’s already proven that with the Ecoboost 1.0-litre, that’s shamed the old 1.6-litre it replaces for economy and efficiency as well as for performance, driving satisfaction and all-round appeal. Many more such engines are on the way. Everyone is going to do a Ford Ecoboost with their petrol engines.
EVs consume no fuel but they sell in hundreds, not hundreds of thousands. They’re tech that will save the planet in the future, not now. Today’s, it’s the super-efficient diesel and, in particular, petrol engines that will stem the environmental impact of road cars. Look out for them, hopefully, in a showroom near you soon…
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